Mpofu wins Durban Marathon, gets disqualified
Grace Chingoma-Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE long-distance runner Isaac Mpofu’s World Championships qualification hangs in the balance after he was disqualified by Athletics South Africa yesterday despite winning the Durban International Marathon.
Mpofu was the first man home in the 42.2km race in 2:10:04.
The qualifying time for men’s World Athletics Championships qualification that is due to take place from July 15 to July 24 in Oregon, United States, is 2 hours 11 minutes 30 seconds.
But the Zimbabwean was devastated after the race organisers said he had to forfeit his R50 000 prize money and title for failing to display two licence numbers on his bib.
ASA ruled that the Zimbabwe Republic Police club athlete was disqualified according to the rules because he only had one licence number.
According to the southafrican.com website, ASA said the rules were clear that the participants of the Durban International Marathon had to wear two license numbers on the day. And for that reason, Mpofu had no leg to stand as he contravened the rules.
South African runner Tumelo Motlagale, who was behind Mpofu with a time of 2.11.15 was declared the marathon winner.
National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe have since appealed to ASA. The athlete’s South African manager, who had the task to sort out the licence, is also working on the issue.
The Durban International Marathon was also doubling as the Athletics South Africa National Championships and a star-studded field turned up for the event.
Mpofu and fellow ZRP mate Munyaradzi Jari were chasing the World Championships qualification and what made the Durban race special was that this was the last qualifying window.
NAAZ head of the national event coaches for the middle and long-distance runners, Benson Chauke, and coach Cephas Pasipamire were yesterday running around to seek recourse for the heartbroken Mpofu.
Mpofu represented the country at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar but is likely to miss this year’s edition due to the technical glitch.
And yesterday’s victory was a chance for him to redeem the sporting code after local athletes had failed to qualify for Tokyo 2022 Games.
Jari finished 15th in yesterday’s race when he clocked 02:26:14 and missed the qualification for the global meet.
Jari had a strong start and by the time he reached the halfway peg his time was at 01:04:59.
He told The Herald from Durban yesterday that he failed to finish off the race well after developing stomach cramps towards the 35km peg.
He was on 01:48:10 at the 35km peg and further slowed down and was on 02:14:37 at the 40km peg.
By that time he had already missed the qualification time.
Black Rhinos Athletics Club athletes Wellington Varevi, Tendai Zimuto and Moses Charakinyu, also travelled to Durban and ran in the open 10km event that was held simultaneously with the 42km race.
Going into this meet, National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe president Tendai Tagara had rallied the duo to do well at the meet after intense preparations that included a training camp in Vumba for all the athletes that travelled to South Africa. Yesterday Tagara explained the technicality and said he hoped sanity will prevail.
“I am happy with the performance of Isaac Mpofu at the South Africa Marathon Championships. Technically, the boy did not infringe on any international rules in terms of marathon running.
“He had a running bib which was officially given by the organisers. He was registered by the organisers, a temporary licence is an arrangement by South Africa that any foreigner must have a temporary licence for that.
“That one is organised by his manager, who is South African, and everything is being handled by the manager. The manager has appealed the decision, and us as a federation, we have also appealed to ASA on the decision, and so we are waiting for that one,” said Tagara.
The 10km runners went to the meet as part of NAAZ’s assessment.